Methane (CH4)

Methane (CH4) is the simplest alkane with only one carbon and four hydrogens in its molecule. It is the main component of natural gas and is attractive fuel source due to its abundance. It exists in the earth’s atmosphere at an approximate concentration of 1800ppb (parts per billion).

Methane is a greenhouse gas because it inhibits outward thermal radiation from the earth – in other words, it traps heat. Methane is in fact a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2) is. For this reason, unused methane is usually flared to convert it to CO2. However, because CH4 is a combustible gas, it is generally recovered as an energy source.

Methane is mainly produced by the biological process of methanogenesis which is one of the metabolic stages of microorganisms on organic matter.

Methane Gas Analysis

Methane is a gas of interest in many analytical applications. Infrared (IR) detectors can be used to measure CH4 because it is an excellent absorber of infrared energy. Methane in industry is frequently measured in percent (%) ranges, but parts per million (ppm) measurement is also possible with IR detectors.

Nova equipment measures CH4 using an IR detector that also ‘sees’ other hydrocarbons and reports them as methane. This is usually not a problem in cases where the non-methane hydrocarbons are not present in significant amounts. If non-methane hydrocarbons are expected to be an issue, we can offer a methane-specific detector which ‘sees’ only methane in a background of mixed hydrocarbons.

The most common requirements for methane analysis occur with landfill, biogas, and syngas applications. See these two pages for more information – Landfill/Biogas and Syngas.

Methane Gas Analyzer Models

Nova has capability for CH4 measurement using the infrared methodology. Our analyzers can be supplied with a built-in sample pump or a pressure regulator to suit most applications. Portable and permanent continuous models are available. Many of the analyzers shown here also measure other gases besides CH4.

Here are our methane gas analyzers:

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